Colorado lawmakers are considering changes to felony sentencing guidelines as part of criminal justice reform. A panel of stakeholders from throughout the criminal justice system called the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice created and drafted the bills.
The panel recently voted to send bills to the legislature to authorize judges to remove mandatory consecutive sentences when certain circumstances are in play. The change would allow convicted defendants to seek sentence reductions (called “reconsiderations”) after serving two to five years. The commission also proposed that defendants with sentences lasting longer than 23 years could request a reduced sentence after serving ten years.
The commission rejected a measure to reclassify extreme indifference murder, which is a Class 1 felony with a life without parole sentence. It had considered making it a Class 2 felony with a 24-to-60-year sentence. The rejection was because the offender could be paroled in 12 years if they got a 24-year sentence.
Fixing a broken system
Criminal justice reform is a national trend toward creating a fairer and more effective criminal justice system. Sentence reform advocates have already proven that unnecessarily harsh penalties can do more harm than good, thrusting increased costs on the taxpayer and creating a cycle of recidivism where repeat offenders are charged with increasingly severe penalties because the sentencing and lack of rehabilitation were ineffective.
Those with questions about mandatory sentencing, the cost of recidivism and reducing their sentence should speak with a criminal law attorney. They can fight against cruel and vindictive sentencing that counters what is best for the people of Colorado.